TUI suspends most travel operations

Leading tour operator to Maldives, TUI, has suspended most of its travel operations due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, TUI Group said: “In this rapidly changing environment the safety and welfare of our guests and employees worldwide remains of paramount importance and thus TUI Group has decided, in line with government guidelines, to suspend the vast majority of all travel operations until further notice, including package travel, cruises and hotel operations.”

This temporary suspension is aimed at contributing to efforts by governments worldwide to mitigate the effects of the spread of COVID-19.

In light of this situation, TUI’s Executive Board has also decided to withdraw the Financial Year 2020 guidance issued in February and not issue a revised guidance.

“Due to the unprecedented escalation of COVID-19, the Board of TUI are continuously evaluating the situation and are considering a variety of actions to support our customers, colleagues and stakeholders,” the statement read.

“The Group has cash and available facilities of approx. €1.4bn and year-to-date performance had been in-line with expectations prior to COVID-19. We are taking substantial cost measures to mitigate the earnings effect.”

TUI has also decided to apply for state aid guarantees to support the business until normal operations are resumed.

On March 8, Maldives reported its first cases of the novel coronavirus, as two hotel employees tested positive for Covid-19 at a luxury resort in the archipelago.

Eleven more cases — all foreigners working or staying resorts and liveaboard vessels — have since been identified. All the patients are under isolation, being treated at designated quarantine facilities.

Maldives announced a state of public health emergency on Thursday, the first such declaration under a recent public health protection law.

The public health emergency declaration has allowed the government to introduce a series of unprecedented restrictive and social distancing measures, including a 14-day ban on inter-island travel of tourists, including for excursions and between resort islands.

Guesthouses and hotels in capital Male and its suburbs of Hulhumale and Villimale have also been shut down for two weeks.

The Maldives had closed its borders to arrivals from the worst-hit countries, including mainland China, Italy, Bangladesh, Iran and Spain. Visitors from three regions of Germany (Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Württemberg), two regions of France (Île-de-France and Grand Est) and two regions of South Korea are also banned from entering the country.

Cruise ships had also been banned from docking at any of the country’s ports.

All direct flights to and from China, Italy, South Korea and Iran had also been cancelled.

The island nation had installed thermal screening cameras at its international airports.

Quarantine facilities, including designated islets from the 1,192 islands that make up the archipelago, had also been established.

The global coronavirus outbreak is expected to hit the Maldivian economy hard, as tourism contributes the bulk of the island nation’s state revenue and foreign reserves.

The government has already announced several cost cutting measures, including a freeze on the hiring of new staff and suspension of non-essential travel by state officials.

TUI customers can check out the most up to date information here: https://www.tui.co.uk/destinations/travel-information/tui-coronavirus-information

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